'The Sanction of Eternal Truth': exploring the poetry of Keats's Eighteenth-Century Forebears
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HLT47
Duration: 2 sessions
What is the course about?
This innovative online literature course will shine a light on five unjustly neglected poets – writing between the 1740s and 1770s – whose subject matter and diction give them some right to be considered as the first Romantics. In particular, although Keats’s debt to Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton is widely acknowledged, the striking influence of his more immediate forebears was also of great significance in shaping the approach to poetry that we now think of as characteristically Keatsian.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
We shall consider a selection of poems (mostly extracts from longer works) by the following:
Thomas Gray – generally known only for his famous Elegy.
William Collins – whose exquisite ‘Ode to Evening’ is a landmark in the evolution of English poetry.
Mark Akenside – who published ‘The Pleasures of Imagination’ at the age of 23 in the year of Pope’s death.
Joseph and Thomas Warton – highly influential brothers whose ambiguous response to Pope’s hegemony was at the heart of the mid-century reaction against the artistic principles of the Augustan age.
It should be stressed that these poets’ work is well worthy of attention in its own right, and not merely because of their subsequent impact on the direction of English poetry.
Several of Keats’s major poems will also be included in the course handout for purposes of reference, though they will not be taught. If you wish to explore Keats in detail, please see Peter Brennan’s ‘John Keats: The Vale of Soul-Making’, scheduled for 9 and 10 October 2021 (code HLT53).
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Demonstrate insight into the work of several comparatively neglected eighteenth-century poets.
Appreciate the distinctive, innovatory nature of the qualities that they developed in their poetry.
Identify how their poetry foreshadows Romanticism, and especially the work of Keats.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No particular prior knowledge will be assumed, but you will need to feel enthusiastic about the prospect of reading and discussing the work of these poets, and in reflecting on their relationship to Romanticism, and especially to Keats. You will be interested in listening to – and learning from – the responses of other students to the work discussed.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Teacher explanation; group reading and discussion. You will be provided with the class handout in advance, containing all the texts to be considered. You will gain most from the course if you are able to read this in advance, and perhaps to reflect further between the first session on Saturday and the second on Sunday.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No, but should you wish to follow up your reading for the course, the most useful and accessible volume is Eighteenth-Century Poetry – An Annotated Anthology, edited by David Fairer and Christine Gerrard (Blackwell, Third Edition, 2014).
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
If you wish to explore Keats in detail, please see Peter Brennan’s ‘John Keats: The Vale of Soul-Making’, scheduled for 9 and 10 October 2021 (code HLT53).
For other Poetry courses please check the Literature programme under History, Culture and Writing/Literature at www.citylit.ac.uk.
Peter Brennan is a poet, and was for many years Head of English at The Latymer School, Edmonton. He founded Visionary Company courses in 2005, and is Editor-in-Chief of Perdika Press.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.